toptal-female-engineerIn a story that is hard to believe, LinkedIn has joined (temporarily) the ranks of the feminist.

It seems Toptal, a developer network, ran ads with professional (and dressed) women advertising their development service. Yes, the some of the images of the women were stock photo’s and not real developers, but are you shitting me? I haven’t seen an ad on a social media or dating site in years where the girl actually looked better in person as compared to her glamour shot photo. We all know advertisers use pretty people to sell – unless they are displaying the “useless husband” in the advertisement that a woman has to save.

Quote: “Today was a disappointing day at Toptal,” began a weekend blog by company CEO Taso Du Val. “We saw extreme sexism within the tech community, from an industry leader and advertising partner that we work with quite extensively: LinkedIn.” In the post, he goes on to recount the sequence of events relating to the company’s ads on LinkedIn, which began a month ago, when the ads were mysteriously disabled and a customer service representative told him that “we had to reject the ads on the Toptal business ads account as many LinkedIn members complained about the women in images you were using.”

“He added that, while some of the company’s ads did indeed include some stock photos, other photos were of actual engineers, such as the attractive Florencia Antara of Buenos Aires. But stock photos or not, Du Val said, it shouldn’t matter. “The point is, they’re perfectly fine and represent normal professional people. Our male versions are no different. They’re male engineers, smiling, some with glasses, some without; the whole idea LinkedIn had was just ridiculous.”

“He soon updated his post with news that LinkedIn had corrected the situation and permitted the original ads to run.”

Any bets that a rather large female in the Customer Service department took it upon herself to reject the beautiful girls/developers photos? Here is the response sent to Toptal after they were notified why their account was suspended:

QUOTE: “Hi [Toptal],
I regret any confusion experienced.

I reached out to you on July 17 regarding the reason why we had to reject your ads and I’m sorry iof you did not receive my message, which was sent to the primary email address associated with your LinkedIn profile (with domain

I contacted you to you to notify that we had to reject the ads on the TopTal business ads account as many LinkedIn members complained about the women images you were using.

As a result, please edit the ads we will reject using different images, related to the product advertised and submit your ads again; we will be more than happy to approve them.

I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. Thank you for your understanding.

Lead Ads Support

Sounds like a girl wrote it, though it is just a guess. My first questions is “What constitutes a lot of women complaining? Quancast reports linkedIn’s unique visitors at about 64 million from the dates Jul 7 through August 5th. Let’s just call it 2 million people a day. Let’s say the ad ran for 5 days. 10 million sample size?

How many people would have to complain to make the complaints statistically relevant? Let’s assume we use a Confidence Level of 99% with a Confidence interval of 5% (that is the +/- to a sample size) we would need 666 +/- 5% complaints. I would be willing to bet they didn’t even get 6. I read the guidelines and Toptal didn’t break any of them.

Here is one of the ad’s and the stock photo in question.

And the skype

Quote: “Here is the Skype conversation as I received this morning:

[8/2/13 2:55:04 AM] Breanden: linkedin just wrote me back and said they would reinstate our account immediately if we agree to change the images

[8/2/13 2:55:13 AM] Taso: no fucking way

[8/2/13 2:55:55 AM] Taso: we need to get them on the phone

[8/2/13 2:56:18 AM] Breanden: Hi [Toptal]:,

I truly apologize for the delay in my response as we were reviewing this case. If you agree to change the images on your ads, we will un-restrict the account and you will be able to advertise again.

Please reply to this message for confirmation.

Lead Ads Support

[8/2/13 2:56:59 AM] Taso: Tell her you and I need to have a call about this because that’s very offensive to our current female engineers.”

I was correct – the Customer Service Rep was a female. Is this how far we have fallen? Where a female customer service representative feels it is ok to block the paid advertising traffic, thus reducing the revenue for this company, not because of nudity, or offensive language or that even breaks their guidelines, but because she feels the girls portrayed as developers were too pretty?

“I would like to say to LinkedIn, that I’ve had no choice but to write this. You’ve greatly offended our female engineers, staff and employees, and as the CEO of Toptal I have no choice but to defend them. Also, out of principle, I stand up for what is right. The fact you can state things such as banning regular professional women in advertising is just completely absurd.”

Good for him. I am going to have to find a way to support his company on my own projects.

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